So it turns out Pitt-Penn State may be a rivalry after all.
The first installment of the in-state series proved worth the 16-year wait, with Penn State rallying from a big, early deficit. However, Pitt held on 42-39. Suppose Onward State would like a mulligan on the above tweet?
However, in that ill-fated tempting of the Football Gods, the student-run publication unwittingly added further evidence suggesting Pitt-Penn State is a bonafide rivalry. Students, alumni and fans of other types do not waste time belittling opponents truly beneath them.
Every true rivalry shares this dynamic. Both sides believe their university, campus life, and certainly their football programs to be superior. If they’re not superior on the scoreboard, darnit, they are morally superior!
Rivalries also need classic games. It was just one, sure, but Saturday’s Pitt-Penn State contest provided the kind of memorable football, characterized by intensity, that’s a rivalry requisite.
The running back duel between Saquon Barkley, who scored five touchdowns for Penn State, and James Conner, who eclipsed the century mark for the first time since beating cancer,
Here's Saquon Barkley's touchdown. Impressive leap to cut Pitt's lead to 28-14. pic.twitter.com/IU1zHY1bMC
— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) September 10, 2016
That both Barkley and Conner are products of Pennsylvania high schools only adds to the rivalry component. These are two programs that recruit talent from the same pipelines and play similar styles. The competition spills off the field and onto the recruiting trail, another necessary component to a real rivalry.
Pitt enjoys bragging rights for the next 364 days; fortunately, college football won’t have to go another 16 years between meetings. The Nittany Lions get hosting duties on Sept. 9, 2017. If logic prevails, Pitt-Penn State should become a fixture every single year on Week 2; a nonconference tradition in the vein of other great, early-season rivalry games.
College football deserves better than for the Panthers and Lions not to play annually.